past event
Racial Equity

Gildenhorn Book Talk with John Edgar Wideman and Timothy B. Tyson

The Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn Book Series will bring together two award-winning authors with books that shed new light on the history of Emmett Till: The 14-year-old Chicago boy who was brutally murdered in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi. The killing, the media coverage, and the contentious trial that followed shook the nation’s conscience.

legacy emmett till

The event will feature John Edgar Wideman, author of Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File and Timothy B. Tyson, author of The Blood of Emmett Till.

The discussion will be moderated by Michele Norris, founding director of The Race Card Project and Executive Director of The Bridge, the Aspen Institute’es new program on Race & Cultural Identity.

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John Edgar Wideman is the author of more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, including the award-winning Brothers and Keepers, Philadelphia Fire, and the story collection God’s Gym. He is the recipient of two PEN/ Faulkner Awards and has been nominated for the National Book Award. He teaches at Brown University.

Timothy B. Tyson is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School, and adjunct professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina. Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (1999) won the James Rawley Prize for best book on race and the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in U.S. History from the Organization of American Historians. Blood Done Sign My Name (2004) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, among others. He serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP.

About Writing to Save a Life
In Writing to Save a Life, John Edgar Wideman writes about the life and death of Louis Till, the father of Civil Rights martyr Emmett Till. Ten years before his 14-year-old son was brutally murdered after allegedly making advances as at a White Woman in Mississippi, Louis Till was executed by the U. S. Army in Europe after being convicted of rape under questionable circumstances. Wideman’s exploration of the entangled fate of father and son is personal. He was also a 14-year-old black teenager in America when Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. After reading decades later about Louis Till’s execution, he couldn’t escape the twin tragedies of father and son, and tells their stories together for the first time.

About The Blood of Emmett Till
What actually happened to Emmett Till—not the icon of injustice but the flesh-and-blood boy? Part detective story, part political history, Timothy Tyson’s The Blood of Emmett Till draws on a wealth of new evidence, including the only interview ever given by Carolyn Bryant, the white woman in whose name Emmett Till was killed. Tyson reports that Carolyn Bryant did not tell the truth about Emmett Till’s alleged sexual advances, a revelation that upends the historic narrative about one of the most notorious racial crimes in America.


Event information
Wed Apr 12, 2017
12:00pm - 1:30pm EST
The Aspen Institute
1 Dupont Circle
Washington, DC